Dearest readers,

Sleeping puppyYawn. Goodness me, I could use a nap — perhaps a nice long eight-hour nap to celebrate National Sleep Awareness Week and prep for Daylight Saving Time starting on Sunday (don’t forget to spring forward!). While I go catch a few z’s, enjoy my troll through the archives to snag slumber-related suggestions. Got any tips for beating the spring-forward slump we’ll all be facing Monday? Hit me up in the comments below.

  • Wood you rather?
    When scoping out a new frame to support your sleeping self, consider one made from sustainably harvested wood. If there is an environmental home-supply store near you, or perhaps a lumber-salvage outfit, it may have regional resources for low-impact furniture. Or opt for a bed constructed with lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. And if you’re feeling particularly gung-ho, consider buying salvaged wood and hiring a carpenter to fashion the sustainable bed of your dreams (you have those dreams too, right?). Get the full Ask Umbra answer.
  • Go to the mattresses.
    The important thing to look for when mattress shopping is that it’s free of polybromenated biphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. (Can we think of a rhyme for this one? Maybe, “PBDE-free is totes for me.”) These nasties have been linked to brain and thyroid problems in rodents and cats, and are especially dangerous to children. If you find a mattress you particularly like, it may be worth calling the manufacturer to find out if they do use PBDEs. Or maybe make your own mattress by buying three-inch-thick latex and thick wool mattress covers. Just pile up these cozy items until you reach the comfort you desire. Get the full Ask Umbra answer.
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  • Honey, I blew up the bed.
    Skip the PVC air mattresses for overnight guests — not only are they terribly uncomfortable, but they also negate my “no vinyl, that’s final” mantra. Instead, think about a rubber or latex model, a PBDE-free foam mattress (which can be rolled up for storage), or a thin, foldable, lightweight Japanese futon. Get the full Ask Umbra answer.
  • In the heat of the night.
    Some people think it takes more energy to turn the thermostat up and down at various times than to just leave it running at the same temp all the time, so let me be crystal clear here: Turn down the thermostat at night and before you leave the house. Our heaters are fighting an incessant battle on our behalf, warming all the new air. If we are not there to be warmed, or are sleeping under a cozy duvet, we can turn down the thermostat. Programmable thermostats are very helpful and quite cheap. Get the full Ask Umbra answer.
  • Goodnight Mac.
    You’re not the only one that could use some shuteye; your computer could too, but putting it into sleep mode isn’t the best way to give it a rest. Turning your machine off not only saves energy and money, but it also reduces heat and mechanical stress and prolongs the life of your computer. It is true, however, that you can save energy by encouraging your computer to sleep as often as possible. Change the settings so that it goes to sleep sooner, and use the sleep mode instead of a screen saver. But at the end of the day, turn the damn thing off. Get the full Ask Umbra answer.


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